DUBLIN: Irish police who took a child away from a second Roma family overnight have since handed him back, it emerged yesterday.
The latest child was removed late on Tuesday night from a family living in Athlone, Co Westmeath, in the Irish Midlands.
DNA samples were taken from the child as well as the Roma couple who are the child’s ostensible parents. But Irish police officers then gave the two-year-old boy back to the family this morning. It is not clear if they did so following the results of any DNA tests.
This latest development comes as another Roma family living in west Dublin await the results of DNA tests that will determine whether a seven-year-old girl is their child or not.
The sisters of the child seized by gardai from the family home in the Irish capital on Monday insisted on Wednesday that they were confident she would be handed back to them.
They said that the family were sure DNA tests would prove she is their biological relative, but added they had been “traumatised” by the ordeal. The sisters said the family would fully co-operate with the DNA tests, the results of which could be known soon.
The parents, who are in their 30s, maintain that their child was born in Dublin in 2006. It is understood that the family have been in Ireland for more than seven years.
They live in a quiet suburban street with neatly kept gardens and a mixture of privately owned and rented terraces and semi-detached houses. The family home is not far from the commercial centre of Tallaght, a local hospital and the Luas tram line, which runs from there into the heart of Dublin.
The girl at the centre of the original controversy is believed to be aged about seven and was seized from the family home on Monday afternoon. However, details of the garda operation were not disclosed until Tuesday.
She is currently in the care of Ireland’s Health Service Executive under section 12 of the Republic’s Child Care Act.
Her parents told gardai that it was their child but officers who visited the house were not satisfied with the documentation the couple produced to prove this.
The child was removed from the family because her features — blonde hair and blue eyes — were so different from the other children in the home. It also emerged today that the family home of the girl taken away from a Roma family in Tallaght has been targeted for attacks in the recent past.
CCTV and clear plastic have been fitted to the front of the house, with members of the family confirming that their home has been attacked. The protective glass has been bolted on to the front window and door. However, the attacks are understood to have taken place at the house before the child at the heart of the controversy was put into care.
Meanwhile, the executive director of the European Roma Rights Centre expressed concern about the way the incident in west Dublin was being reported, as well as the portrayal of Roma in general since the incident in Greece when a child, known as Maria, was seized from another family last week.
There are about 5,000 Roma immigrants in Ireland, with the majority of them living in Dublin. The European commission has criticised the Republic for failing to integrate the Roma fully into Irish society.